Second topic - Different perspective about the the Nakba and right of return

Dear all,

We are opening the the second topic, and I would like to start by telling my own story.
My parents fled to Israel right after WWII, and were inhabited by the newly established government in Jerusalem, in a neighborhood called Baka (Arab name used till today), I grew up in a house I knew belonged to Arab who left/fled during the war of 1948, but as a child I did not pay attention to it.

Right after 67 war, the original residents of the house came to see the place (all I remember is that they lived in the old city and had a coffee shop there), the meeting was strange, both sides were not sure how to behave, they went in, had a look and left, probably very sad about what they have lost, but again we did not pay a lot of attention, the issue of Nakba was strange to us, as all Israelis we grew up on the myth that most of the Palestinian fled, because they were promised by their own leaders to be able to come back later, after the promised victory, and of course the other part of the myth was that the Arabs have 22 countries, so it is up to those countries to 'absorb' the poor refugees, as my parents were 'absorbed' by the Israeli state, when they escaped Europe.

Few years ago I went with mother to Romania to visit the village were she was born, we of course had no intention to go back and live there, and reclaim the house that was left behind, but when we talked to the current residents, we felt that they are suspicious about our intention, and I suddenly realized that now I am on the other side, and that is how the people who lived in my house felt when they visited us.

Since then I my understanding matured, I want to learn more, and I acknowledge the narrative of the other people with which we fight and negotiate, and that is the Nakba, and it is clear to me that there will be no peace unless this issue is discussed and resolved somehow, I do not think the solution is letting everyone come back, but I am sure the solution is not ignoring it, and leaving it as 'their problem' as it is clearly not, it is ours.

We as Jews have our own narrative, and that is based on the holocaust, Palestinians need to understand it, so they will know why the Jews insist on having their own state, as a shelter to all Jews, I am truly very sad it came on expense of another people, but history cannot be changed, we should care about the future, not all Israelis share this way of thinking, I think most of them prefer ignoring the topic.

I'd like to suggest we dicuss this issue, I suggest we ignore the basic question whose blame it is, it is from my point of view an irrelevant question, the issues I'd like to suggest we dicuss are quite different.

Recently I made the connection with organization called Zochrot, I went with them to a tour in one of the destroyed villages near Jerusalem (Ajjur), I saw the reaction of the police and other authorities when they waited for us there, I heard what my friends tell me about making an issue of event in history, which is not our issue, and better be left alone, but yet I think it is important to discuss.

Ranin Geries (Palestinian from Haifa) from Zochrot, volunteered to lead this discussion, she will join this group next week, she will also be able to support Palestinian participants, as she does speak the three languages, and I am sure it will be interesting discussion, but I am also certain it is important one.

The questions Ranin and myself thought will be good to start with are
1. Why is it important to discuss the Nakba, is it not just history? Is it related to our future and how?
2. What is the connection between the Nakba and what is happening today between Arab and Jews?
3. Will the resolution of the Nakba problem also support the resolution of the conflict between Arab and Jews?

I hope you join and I hope we have good debate

Zochrot site

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Thanks for sharing this Roni.


Zochrot is good focused organization to bring the conscious of the NAKBA to Israel mind.
But the question is should we as Israelis talk about it, is it not just waking up the dead (as a figure of speech)?
Thank you Roni
first of all we must know that Palestinian not have any problem with Jewish but they have many problem with Zionist.
my grandfather lived in villige name (Hamama in Ashkilon), and Zionist militia forced Palestinian people out of thier homes and villiges.
We must discuss the Nakba because millions of Palestinian peoples suffering so far from it.
My future like others is so dark because of Nakba, before 1948 my grand father owned a big farm but now I live with my family in a small house and I cant buy a special home to me, so the future affected by Nakba.

Thanks Mohammed

We are definitely in peculiar but tragic situation as the solution for one nation came on the expense of another, and as I wrote I personally do not see a solution to the conflict without resolving the refugees problem.

What will be the solution in your mind? In most cases the Arab village is not there any more and more likely there is a new Jewish settlement on its ruins, so how do you see resolution for such problem?

BTW do you live in refugee camp?

I am sure for most if not all Palestinians the issue of Nakba is so strong they can never forget or forgive, but I would like to hear from the Israelis what they think? Should we talk about it? Teach about it?
I totally understand and agree Bbt please offer way to solve it? What will be a fair resolution in your view and what will be a possible one?
This is a process....not a destination. Peace has never been a 'final' position any more than has war. We humans transition from one to the other...and then back again. I have no proposition to change how the entire human race operates......but I do look to those spots on earth where ancient hatreds have transformed into present love. I have no illusions that there will be great love between Israelis and least not in my lifetime....(although I do believe it possible). Considering that we have little control over our leaders......except the power of the vote and also that of the consensus of collective consciousness.....we must do this for ourselves. It is our responsibility, since our leaders have mostly failed miserably.

Let's start with justice. Justice is best defined by the one who perceives that he is without it. To begin....we must listen silently......WITHOUT input......WITHOUT response.......WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. Listening is paramount to facilitating both understanding.....and trust that we really care about the other. After the other is heard....and only when they say they are finished.....we validate them for their experiences....(this is not necessarily agreeing with them). If the other feels truly heard....then they might be willing to allow us to speak to our issues.

This can produce a calming discharge and then.....perhaps the basis for a dialog. Usually we only shout vitriolic monologs at each other......screaming that our hurt is greater than the other's. Understand that we have an emotional investment in clinging to our wounds. They serve us well.....even if they cause us pain....and no one easily gives up anything in which they are invested. I believe we must find replacements for our respective emotional investments.....which are ultimately more valuable. Those rewards can be even richer than the just the'terms' we demand from each other. This is what happens when one makes a good investment.

Positive change seldom occurs without pain and sacrifice......and without a personal commitment. Most of us want the other to order to fit our vision. This is as preposterous as believing that peace is a product of war. I hope that Obama's election will herald a new attitude to sweep the world and encourage us to take the difficult actions which will progress our world. We cannot leave it only to either our leaders or to the other.
THE AGE-OLD ISSUE: How do we (those who care to attempt) get into another's brain and order to UNDERSTAND?......and therefore affect progressive change.
I believe that without this.....we are lost in our quest. EVERYONE sufffers some injustices in their life....but why do some of us overcome this....forgive.....and become available to others to help them heal? I ponder this I tend to hold on to my wounds......continuing to try to make 'the other' responsible for why my life does not work. I have difficulty forgiving my parents....and my father has been dead for 12 years! I still sometimes feel like the victim.

This is not to say that we should completely forget what others have done to us.....but holding on to these wounds keeps us stuck.

1. Discussing the Nakba is absolutely necessary.....because my Palestinian brothers & sisters SAY SO. I respect their need to process this tragedy....and who am I to tell them that they should 'get past it'? How does my Jewish family react when an outsider tells them to 'get over the Holocaust'? Also, I must acknowledge MY responsibility in the Nakba...although I was not there in '48. My Jewish brothers & sisters committed these cruel acts....and I, too repeated the myth that we Jews/Zionists created to deny the reality of what the Palestinians experienced.

Perhaps we can someday create Truth & Reconcilliation groups, as did the South Africans.

2. The Nakba is still the '800 pound gorilla' in the room. I believe that ONLY if we address this isue....will there be a CHANCE for peace/justice/mutual accommodation.

3. Yes
When I lived in Israel and did not know many Palestinians, the ideas of the Nakba threatened me. It implied that I was at fault and that only Palestinian pain could be recognized. It also hinted of Palestinians returning to what is today Israel which is even more threatening.

Since living in Canada and meeting Palestinians in an environment that isn’t filled with anger and hatred, I now have a better understanding of the meaning of the Nakba to Palestinians. It was a defining moment for Palestinians which lasts until today. It is what defines their group identity. As a Palestinian told me, it was the original sin that all other sins come from. If it is solved, the Palestinian issues are solved. For that reason, I think it is in Israel’s interest to look at what the Nakba means to Palestinians and work together to solve both our problems because our issues (security) and Palestinian’s issues (justice, rights, etc.) are directly connected.

How do we do that? That is much harder. I see most Israelis feeling very threatened by this issue for two main reasons: 1) Israeli culture, history, beliefs, etc. is based on the idea that Israeli Jews are innocent victims just trying to flee 2000 years of persecution to come to our tribal homeland to be once again under attack, this time by Palestinians. If you believe you are the innocent victim under attack, you will not be able to hear how you are also the aggressor who created another group of innocent victims (Palestinians). You will rationalize everything that happens to fit your world view and never see the other side and how you contribute to the conflict. If you did understand what you are doing, you would have an identity crises and groups cannot handle an identity crises. 2) we are under attack physically so it makes being under attack emotionally (or our identity under attack) much more difficult to handle.

So for example, when I read about Zochrot, I felt threatened by this group. I felt that they were another group trying to destroy everything that was meaningful to me. I think the best way to teach about the Nakba is a softer approach. I think comparing the Nakba to the war of independence and showing how Israelis and Palestinians understood this period very differently might be helpful because it is 60 years old and probably easier to digest (for Israelis) than something more recent. This could be done through films, stories, etc. to reach a wide audience in Israeli and Palestinian society. I think it is also important for Palestinians to understand how this period was such a positive thing for us and the historical reasons why.

Why do you feel threatened by Zochrot activity, I need to understand as I am also puzzled what should be the right way to act
It is an emotional response, not rational. I have never actually been to a zochrot activity. I have only heard of them in the news and remember feeling threatened.

I think it is the unknown that threatens me. What does this group want to say? What are its goals? Is this leading to Israel being replaced by Palestine? Will this make us weak?

I think the group’s tactics have to change: put the fear of the unknown in the spotlight, subtly show how we have dehumanized the Palestinians in general as a way to cope with the conflict. For example, an interesting exposition would be a Palestinian who lost his house in ’48 and the Israeli Jew who now lives in the house meeting, understanding each other’s stories, and maybe coming to a theoretical solution that is win-win. I think if that process were apparent to Israelis- that the sky won't fall if we deal with this, it would cease to be as frightening and threatening. I also think it should be Palestinians and Israelis who are reaching out together to the Jewish Israeli mainstream. When I see Israeli Jews doing this work, I still think of the Palestinians as wanting to “throw us in the sea” and these Jews are just naïve leftists. When I actually met Palestinians and had a conversation with them, heard their pain and dreams, humanized them, it was a completely different experience.
Actually what you suggest we already had in mind. If you see on same fireside group I opened another discussion
The idea there is not to have regular discussion but to connect Palestinian who have roots in specific village and Israeli who live there now
I have some ideas what do after but wanted to hear other suggest and comment, no one there yet.but I hope slowly we will gather people 3-4 pairs will be sufficient for a start


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